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Quality time with the Samsung NX300

12 Nov 2013

There’s a lot to like about this compact camera.

But just a warning to the techno types out there – I’m more about the creative applications and capabilities in this review, than ticking the technical boxes.

My first impressions were around the aesthetic appeal. Such a fluent design with a retro look and feel. Especially the model with the brown leather and matt silver finish.

It reminded me of the rangefinder cameras from the sixties and seventies. Although there is no viewfinder on this camera, only the very adequate live screen view.

Overall a very ‘romantic’ look – taking me back to European adventures at a time when travellers were taking aim with their 35mm rangefinders to capture the grandeur of popular tourist sites in the old sections of the big cities and small towns.

And then you pick up the NX300. The moulded grip for the right hand is a great fit for somebody with bigger hands and photographers used to a DSLR feel. Especially if you cradle the machine with the heel of your left hand at the base of the camera, leaving the left hand fingers to work the lens controls.

When you start shooting, the adjustable live screen is very handy if you want to be unobtrusive or get extreme high or low angles without going into contortionist mode.

But technically this little machine packs a heap of handy features. As a DSLR die-hard I found the interchangeable lenses most appealing. The 18-55mm zoom lens with an aperture value of f3.5-5.6 is a handy walk-about companion when travelling. With this lens the shooter can capture interesting street scenes, architecture, landscapes and portraits.

The kit which I tried out had an additional 45mm f1.8 lens. And wait for it…which can shoot 3D while capturing video. The aperture value at f1.8 deals with low light conditions beautifully. It also allows for creative effects with the shallow depth of field when the aperture is wide open.

Both lenses are equipped with an iFn control button which gives you instant access to choose one of three variables for a quick adjustment – Shutter Speed, ISO or White Balance.

Using the touch-screen is quite handy to get through the menu and it provides quick access to different creative settings. Finding and using the manual settings was quite similar to my DSLR. Taking control of the camera’s creative modes achieved some appealing results. A whole range of creative modes is at your fingertips and makes it fun to play around with the NX300.

Having in-camera High Dynamic Range capability also offers a novel facility if you are not a post-processing wizard. The video mode is equally user friendly and quick to activate. And then you have a range of instant Wi-Fi sharing options, enabling the photographer to share images straight from camera to other digital and mobile devices.

Both lenses provide manual focus assist by optically zooming in for MF when making macro style or portrait shots and then back to fullfor composition and shooting. Quite a clever feature. Especially if you need to find a small critical area in theas your essential focus point, i.e. picking out a water drop on a flower or the eye of a subject for a tight headshot.

In conclusion – pricy, but widely regarded as the best NX camera by Samsung so far. Considering the quality images this pocket rocket can deliver I think it’s worth the price tag.

Especially if you want to be travelling light, and be able to capture quality images.

Review by Kobus Schoeman, Short Course Digital Photography presenter at Bring Your Own Laptop